Red Wigglers (Eisenia Fetida)⚓︎
- Thin, dark red worms, usually slimmer and flatter than common garden earthworms.
- Tend to have yellow stripes of banding around their bodies.
- 2 to 4 inches in length.
- Reproduce quickly and are tolerant of quite a wide temperature range (55-95°F).
- Lifespan 1 to 5 years.
- When roughly handled, the worm exudes a pungent liquid, thus the specific name fetida meaning “foul-smelling”.
- Native to Europe, eisenia fetida are not classified as invasive species in North America as they are not considered to have a negative environmental impact in the wild.
- The soil should have a 60% to 70% moisture level. Higher levels of moisture may increase microbial activity, increasing the temperature.
- Internal soil temperatures should be between 55°F and 90°F.
- Vermicompost should normally be slightly acidic – in the 6 to 7 range – and can be maintained with constant additions of bedding.
Leachate, also known as worm tea, worm juice, or worm wee, is not actually a desirable byproduct of vermicomposting. It means there is too much moisture in the bin, likely due to overfeeding, and can lead to other problems in the bin.
- Anaerobic conditions - As excess moisture seeps down into the vermicompost, it displaces air in the pore spaces. The microbes in the vermicompost consume the available oxygen in these pore spaces that are now occupied by the leachate, eventually producing an anaerobic, oxygen-deficient environment.
- Worms at the bottom of the bin – In normal conditions, worms should be near the top of the bin eating away at the fresher organic waste. However, worms are also attracted to water and will often follow it to undesirable depths. In continuous flow and multi layer bin systems this means harvests can often be full of worms when they should otherwise remain at the top of the system.
- Difficult screening of harvests – Even without wormy harvests, wet vermicompost is difficult to screen as it will tend to snowball and form aggregates that are too large to make it through the screen. Pros will often dry their vermicomposts out to somewhere near 40% in order to screen it more effectively. Some often add water back into the screened castings to keep the environment friendly for the microbe populations.
- Red wigglers, like all earthworms, are [[hermaphroditic]], simultaneously possessing both male and female sex organs, both of which are used in the reproduction process.
- Lemon-shaped cocoons will normally yield 3 worms, and each pair of worms will produce 1-3 cocoons per week.
- Cocoons are about 1/8th inch wide, and starts as a yellowish color. They get progressively darker until they hatch 21 days later.
- Within 42 days, baby worms will reach sexual maturity.
Also Known As⚓︎
- Brandling worm
- Manure worm
- Panfish worm
- Tiger worm
- Trout worm